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Race and Politics in the Age of Obama

Christopher Sebastian Parker. "Race and Politics in the Age of Obama." Annual Review of Sociology, 2016, vol. 42:217–30.


Race has rarely mattered more in US politics than it does now. The election of President Obama has laid bare the racial divisions that continue to fracture the United States. In this review, I explore the emerging scholarship that assesses Obama’s impact on social and political life in the United States. I first examine the symbolic meaning of Obama’s election to black and white citizens. Second, I analyze how racism has influenced whites’ political behavior and policy preferences. Next, I examine how President Obama has influenced public policy. Then, I suggest that the toxic political climate surrounding Obama is just another installment of a saga in which rapid social change is met with anxiety and anger by some whites who perceive their way of life as being under threat. Finally, I illustrate how the “Obama effect” combines with the perceived “Latino threat” to affect whites’ political behavior.

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